Photo by Lee Pigott on Unsplash.……

Maybe you’re a world class equestrian or you could be just starting out. Either way, there are several small details that many horsemen and women overlook. These are all simple things that you should make habitual in order to see progress in your horse, as well as yourself. Anyone that’s familiar with the equine industry or has even minor experience riding will view most of these points as obvious. However, how many of you actually do all of these things every time you mount up? Being successful isn’t attributed to one main factor, but really to lots of small things all put together. 

Ten Tips for Better Horsemanship in Both Horse & Rider:

  1. Be light with your hands whenever you’re riding. Some people spend their entire riding career trying to learn and achieve this skill, not only with their own horse, but with any horse they ride. 
  2. Do more transitions! This allows your horse’s muscles and joints, especially in the hind end, to stretch and strengthen. 
  3. Have your horse’s hooves trimmed or shod every 4-6 weeks, even if they might look like they don’t need it. Issues and injuries to the hooves can lead to many other health issues. Plus, every time your horse has a positive interaction with the farrier, it makes the next time even more pleasant. 
  4. Be sure that you are 100% comfortable working with your horse on the ground before trying to excel in riding them. If you can’t communicate with them when you’re standing right next to them, how do you expect them to be comfortable while you’re sitting on their back? 
  5. Always reward your horse with a soft voice and a gentle pat when he or she does what you’ve asked of them. Although it sometimes seems like our horses speak English, they are definitely not fluent. Let them know they did something right. 
  6. Be sure to change directions when riding as often as you can. Most horses feel better in one direction, but the goal is to have equal strength and flexibility no matter which way you’re going. 
  7. If your horse is anxious or jumpy, it is always okay to get off and address whatever is scaring them from the ground. A wise horseman would advise safety over pride. Ands honestly, wouldn’t you feel more comfortable with your friend walking next to you through a haunted house, than standing somewhere above/behind you? Maybe you’re just really brave, but I’m not looking to take on the chainsaw man alone. 
  8. Always keep your eyes up, looking forward, in front of your horse’s head. You can’t make it very far if you’re staring at their neck. 
  9. Make sure your horse stands still while mounting and be quick to correct them if they don’t. It’s crucial to be able to mount and trust that your horse will stand still and respect you. 
  10. Watch other people ride. Learn from their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s always easiest to learn something when you see someone else do it firsthand. 

Ten steps people. Ten steps that are easy to understand and even easier to implement. It’s honestly that easy. Yes, every horse is different and will respond in their own ways to these things, but instilling confidence through repetition is the best way to make progress as a horse and rider team.